The New York State Big Tree Register is maintained by DEC as an effort to recognize trees of record size and to promote an interest in learning about the trees we come in contact with every day. The list of Big Tree Champions is available in scientific name (PDF) and common name (PDF). American Forests, which runs the National Champion Trees Program, is the authority for determining which tree species are eligible for champion status. View their list of eligible native and naturalized tree species (updated December 1, 2021) to see if your tree qualifies.
Nominated trees are measured to calculate a total point score, which is the sum of the tree's height in feet, the trunk circumference in inches at 4.5 feet off the ground, and one quarter of the tree's average crown spread in feet.
Total Point Score = Height in feet + Trunk Circumference in inches + 1/4 Average Crown Spread in feet
Champion trees must be remeasured every 10 years to remain on the list, although a small grace period will be afforded when champions cannot be remeasured right away. If two or more trees of the same species score within a certain number of points of each other, they are considered co-champions.
- For champion trees that are at 100 or fewer points, co-champions must be within 3 points.
- For champion trees that are more than 100 points, co-champions must be within 3% of the larger tree's total.
How to Nominate a Big Tree
Measure your tree's circumference at 4.5 feet from the ground and compare it to the current champion of the same species. A large chunk of a tree's total points often comes from the circumference, so it is a good way to gauge whether your tree has a fighting chance. Contact the Lands and Forests Program at a DEC office near where the tree is located to have a forester measure the tree, or find a non-DEC professional experienced in identifying and measuring trees, such as a certified arborist or cooperating forester, to determine the tree's total point score. Complete a New York State Big Tree Nomination Form (PDF) and submit it to DEC for verification. If a DEC forester is not immediately available to measure the tree, measurements taken by a non-DEC tree professional may be accepted as verified.
Please make sure all parts of the nomination form are filled in and record the GPS coordinates using NAD 83 to ensure trees can be located easily for remeasuring. Private addresses, emails, and phone numbers are used only for the purpose of verifying nominated trees and are never released to the public. Whenever possible, please also submit photos of the tree.
The Big Tree Champion list will be updated once a year in the fall/winter and released in January. For the best chance to have your tree make it into the update, please submit your nomination form before September 1.
If a New York State champion tree qualifies as a national champion, it should be submitted to American Forests separately. Please note: American Forests has very specific guidelines for nominating trees for their National Champion's list, which include photo requirements.